OUTA asks high court to give SANRAL CEO 10 days to hand over court-ordered information on the N4 toll contract or face a jail sentence

SANRAL ignored OUTA’s PAIA request for toll concession documents, ignored the court application, ignored the November court order to comply, then delayed by claiming to file a recission application which did not materialise. This is acting in bad faith, says OUTA.

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25/01/2022 13:14:22

OUTA asks high court to give SANRAL CEO 10 days to hand over court-ordered information on the N4 toll contract or face a jail sentence 

OUTA has applied to the Pretoria High Court for SANRAL and its CEO to be declared to be in contempt of court for ignoring an order to provide OUTA with information, and for a suspended jail sentence for the CEO to encourage compliance within 10 days. This application was launched on 24 January 2022.

The application arises from SANRAL’s failure to comply with an order from that court on 15 November 2021 to provide OUTA with information on the Trans African Concessions (TRAC) concession contract to operate the N4 toll road, from Tshwane to Maputo. SANRAL had failed to oppose OUTA’s application and, once the order was granted, failed to comply with that order.

In this week’s court papers, OUTA asks the court to order SANRAL and the CEO, who is also the SANRAL information officer, to comply and provide OUTA with the information requested. OUTA also asks the court to issue a 30-day prison sentence for the CEO, suspended for one year, on condition that SANRAL complies with the original order within 10 days of the new order being served. At the time of the PAIA request and the 2021 court action, the CEO was Skhumbuzo Macozoma, who left SANRAL in November 2021.

If the court grants this order, it would mean that if SANRAL fails to meet the new deadline, the CEO would face jail time.

“SANRAL failed to adhere to a court order we obtained against them for the disclosure of documentation relating to the concession contract of TRAC. This order was granted in our favour on 15 November 2021. They did nothing, hence we are forcing them to comply,” says Brendan Slade, OUTA Legal Project Manager.

The matter is set down for hearing on 24 May 2022.

This week’s application is supported by a founding affidavit from Andri Jennings, the lawyer acting for OUTA in this matter.

This case arises from an application by OUTA to SANRAL in June 2020, in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA), for a list of specified information on the TRAC concession. SANRAL failed to respond, which is legally deemed a refusal to comply. In February 2021, OUTA filed legal action against SANRAL in the Pretoria High Court, demanding the documents. SANRAL failed to oppose the application so the order was granted to OUTA on 15 November.

On 13 December 2021, SANRAL indicated that it would file an application for rescission of the court order, despite having been aware of the original application since February 2021 and failed to oppose it. This rescission application has not yet been filed and two deadlines have been missed. Jennings says SANRAL “merely used the threat thereof as a delay tactic”.

Jennings says in her affidavit that SANRAL and Macozoma “have wilfully, and mala fide failed to comply with the order and provided no compelling reasons for such failure”.

“We want that information and we will pursue this matter to finality,” says Slade.

More information

A soundclip with comment from OUTA’s Brendan Slade is here.

OUTA’s notice of motion and founding affidavit are here.

The court order of 15 November 2021 is here.

More information OUTA’s court win of 15 November 2021 against SANRAL, including those court papers and a summary of the information requested from SANRAL, is here.

The full list of documents, annexed to the PAIA application, is here.

Picture: OUTA